User Experience Design

Downtown Restaurant Application

Project Objective

Consider a design question and conduct user research around that question in order to develop an app for a businesses in downtown Harrisonburg.

Design Question

"How might we improve the experience of students trying to discover new places to eat in downtown Harrisonburg?"​


In a hypothetical situation, we were hired to develop a web app for James Madison University that solves our design question.


1. User Research
2. Design Requirements
3. User Stories
4. User Personas
5. Information Architecture

USer Research Plan

Step 1

Determining questions

  • 3-5 Questions
  • Help Determine a Persona
  • Yes and No Questions

Step 2


  • At least 5 students
  • 1 On & Off Campus
  • 1 Under & Over 21

Step 3

Interview PRocess

  • Relaxed
  • In Person or Over the Phone
  • Include an Incentive

USer Research questions

If less then 1-2 times is there one thing that would provoke you to go downtown more?

 Or if you enjoy the restaurants provided what are the types that you enjoy the most?

If not, would you recommend we add restaurants with or without bars, for delivery only, and or for only breakfast, lunch, or dinner?

Overall, the answers that I received all framed around the idea of introducing more non-sit down eateries that have healthy options to satisfy the entire meal spectrum, rather than focused on one to two types of meals. This kind of place would eliminate wait times, provide a variety of specials, delivery options, multiple choices of cuisine, and be frugal to the students and community members of Harrisonburg. All of these aspects were mentioned within the answers of the students and are what I have chosen to incorporate into my design requirements of my app. They satisfy the wants and needs that this form of eatery would convey and hopefully a place with such advancements will open in the future.

Design Requirements

1. This app should provide notifications for any new and upcoming restaurants, eateries, breweries, or bars that are opening in downtown Harrisonburg because the students and community members love a variety of places to eat.
3. This app should have a list of the restaurants and eateries in accordance to the basis of dining in or getting To-Go in order to promote efficiency for the people of Harrisonburg.
2. This app should have an option to view the wait time of any place downtown because the restaurants tend to be crowded.
4. This app should promote more deals, delivery options, and specials that each place has downtown because a majority of people in Harrisonburg are college students with a limited amount of income.

5. This app should have an option for people looking for specific kinds of cuisine that suite their taste because people enjoy a variety of foods.

User Story INformation

Value Propositions 

Living on-campus can discourage you from visiting downtown Harrisonburg. We want to provide an app with constant updates on the variety of new places to eat downtown that will encourage you to visit and enjoy the wonderful cuisine it offers. In order to do this we have the option to search filters that would help to list what restaurants and eateries match your eating habits. This would eliminate the time it would take looking through a basic list of each place of dining downtown and the user would be given a list that were focused on them.

As an off-campus student, the price of going downtown can persuade you to choose a cheaper option in the Harrisonburg community. However, our goal is to provide you with the deals and specials that the places downtown provide on a daily basis in order to give you the option of dining downtown more often. To do this, we have provided a panel on the home page of our app for our users to scroll through and look at the promotions, deals, and specials that are being advertised at that time. This would allow a shortcut for going to the sites of each restaurant or calling ahead to find out what they offer.

In order to change your habit of going downtown to eat from occasional to frequent, our app’s goal is to provide you with faster ways to check the wait time, make a reservation, or maybe even get something “To-Go”. To make this an option within our app, we have created the option of making your own account to do such things. With your own account the restaurant that you choose to maybe make a reservation will be able to easily notify you in any way. You will also be able to use the plus button on the sidebar to make it even easier to make a reservation, or get something to go. Along with this, the option of viewing the wait time is similar to looking at the promotions whereas they will be listed on the home page to allow users to scroll through if they want to base their decision on going downtown on how long they might wait.

User Story Narratives

Justin was planning on going out to eat on Friday night with a few friends that are visiting from his hometown. He loves trying a variety of cuisines and is tired of going to a typical go-to place like Buffalo Wild Wings. Although the prices are ideal, the scene is suiting to his college lifestyle, and the wait time is usually manageable, he would like to go downtown to really give his visitors the grand tour of the scenery and nicer dining that downtown Harrisonburg provides. As an off-campus college student, he is limited to the allowance he is able to use within a given amount of time. He has to pick and choose when and where he is going to spend his money. Going downtown can be expensive, so planning is necessary. Around 6 o’clock Justin realized that if they went downtown, the most popular places would most likely have an hour wait or be extremely crowded. He groaned. Would there ever be a time that he could go downtown without the worry of there being an obnoxious amount of people and an hour or more time to wait? Last time he went downtown there wasn’t enough room to stand within the restaurant and it took at least an hour and a half to actually sit down and order.

Justin was planning his Friday night because he was having a few visitors come to town and he wanted to show them the great dining options in downtown Harrisonburg. He prefers to go to a place like Buffalo Wild Wings with his college roommates, due to their low income lifestyle as off-campus students at JMU. But, since this was a special occasion he made sure he planned his allowance accordingly. He groaned. How would they be able to go downtown without the worry of there being a long wait to sit down or having a place to stand at the bar with the crowd that was usually included? When planning, he was talking to his friend that occasionally went downtown to eat and they mentioned there was a new app that has features that allowed you to book a reservation, determine the wait time, and order something to-go or for delivery at any restaurant downtown if it was too crowded. This was exactly what he needed. Now he could make a reservation, never have to worry about waiting over an hour to sit down, and if he was able to use his spending money but didn’t want to go downtown he could easily order food to-go or for delivery. If only this was created before he went downtown to eat and spent a total of 3 hours waiting and eating. Now he is able to plan his night out with his friends stress-free. The best part is that although it may be crowded, he knows that they have a table waiting for them to enjoy the scene of the restaurant and the variety of nice cuisine.

Holly is an on-campus student who has a large meal plan to satisfy her schedule throughout the week. She loves going to eat on-campus, but after eating the same thing every week she would love to go downtown or off-campus to see what dining options the town of Harrisonburg offers. She has never been downtown, other than her visit to JMU and with her parents to pay and transport her. Holly has had a Dukes wrap and chips for lunch the entire semester and sometimes steps outside the box to get a quinoa bowl from SSC. She is in desperate need for something new and tasteful. She is able to use the JMU dining site in order to see what she could eat, but she has struggled to her wits end to find out what eateries and restaurants are in downtown Harrisonburg. As a freshman, it is discouraging to go downtown since you have little to no experience of knowing what places are recommended and even what is offered. But if she eats another Dukes wrap she may throw up. To make things worse, she has struggled to meet others that have knowledge of the dining in downtown Harrisonburg. Being an out-of-state student has not benefited her in terms of knowing experienced upperclassmen in comparison to people coming from similar places in-state that know multiple people with knowledge of off-campus dining. The only thing she could do at this point would be to give up and take another trip to SSC or maybe D-hub.

Holly has enjoyed living on-campus as a freshman at JMU. She has a meal plan that satisfies her schedule and eating habits, but would do anything to eat something other than a wrap and chips or a basic quinoa bowl. JMU has a great variety of dining options, however Holly has come to the conclusion that there is no way easy way to explore the dining options in downtown Harrisonburg. Coming from an out-of-state perspective, she has made multiple friends and acquaintances at JMU, but none with previous knowledge of the downtown dining options. One day she was sitting at Dukes with a few friends, of course eating her typical spinach wrap with turkey and cheese, when someone handed out a flyer that mentioned a new app that encompassed everything you might want to know about Harrisonburg’s downtown dining. It had features that notified you with any new restaurant or eatery that would be opening, a way to search up any restaurant that would satisfy your preferences, and even an option to view any information that you would need to know about a place before attending. Holly could not believe her eyes. It was an app that satisfied her needs without having to settle for anything less than a wrap or bowl. Her friends didn’t seem to have much interest, but she convinced them that anything would be better than eating the same exact food every day. The rest of their lunch was spent downloading the app, trying out each feature, and planning what time they should go downtown the next day.